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May 23, 1986

Uruguay's Military PhysiciansCogs in a System of State Terror

JAMA. 1986;255(20):2788-2793. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370200090034

IN THE Eastern Republic of Uruguay, the terror is over. In March 1985, a junta of generals yielded civil authority to an elected president and his party, ending almost a dozen years of near-total military control over political, social, and cultural life.1 The apparatus of terror that enforced this control—a system of clandestine detention and torture centers that channeled thousands of political detainees via secret military courts to a network of "national security" prisons2—has been dismantled.

Yet the still-powerful generals have frustrated civilian inquiry into the inner workings of that apparatus. And one of the most alarming claims about it—that health professionals collaborated systematically in its programs of torture—has remained unexplored.

This article reports results from the author's investigation into that charge last December in Uruguay on behalf of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. For the first time, top officials of the Uruguayan armed forces